Afghan women journalists rep shot dead in Jalalabad

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Afghan woman journalist Malalai Maiwand’s targeted murder today in the eastern city of Jalalabad and calls on the Afghan authorities to guarantee the safety of media personnel instead of doing little to protect them.

Malalai Maiwand died on the spot when two gunmen opened fire on her car as she was going to work, while her driver, Tahar Khan, died of his injuries in hospital. She was on her way to the Jalalabad offices of Enekaas TV, a privately-owned TV channel for which she had worked for the past eight years.

Aged 30, Maiwand was also the Jalalabad representative of the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ). Its director, Farideh Neekzad, described her as “a courageous and active women, one of the CPAWJ’s first activists, who wasn’t afraid of reporting the facts and telling the truth in a region that is constantly under pressure from the enemies of women’s rights and freedom of expression.”

The CPAWJ is an Afghan NGO that was created by and for women journalists. Its purpose is to assist and protect women journalists, especially those who work in Afghanistan’s remoter provinces and who, for this reason, are especially vulnerable.

Malalai Maiwand was more than an ordinary journalist,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk. “Her commitment to the CPAWJ made her a model for many Afghan women journalists. Her murder is all the more shocking and horrible for being carried out on the day that that the world is celebrating Human Rights Day. It joins the long list of targeted attacks against Afghan journalists and is a cruel reminder of the urgent need for the Afghan authorities to take immediate steps to guarantee and reinforce the security of media professionals.”

Enekaas TV director Zamie Latifi told RSF that his TV channel had received repeated threats in recent months, targeted not at journalists in particular but at the TV channel as a whole. Najibollah Maghsoudi, the head of the committee for verifying complaints against journalists (an interior ministry offshoot), said the committee had not registered any specific threat against Maiwand. Taliban spokesman Zabiholah Mojahed denied that the Taliban were responsible for her murder.

This is the second targeted murder of an Afghan journalist in less than a month. Mohammad Aliyas Dayee, who worked for the Pashto-language section of Radio Azadi, the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was killed by a bomb placed under his car in Lashkargah, the capital of the southwestern province of Helmand, on 12 November.

Afghanistan is ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.